Tow Truck News
When the battery died in Susan Darrow's Camry in December, she called Brewer's Towing.
by Jan Schlain
From the February, 2018 issue
As usual, Brewer's came out to jump-start the car, her friend Al Slote reports--but to her surprise, "they wouldn't take her AAA card." Slote, a former Observer writer, poked around and learned, he says, that "Brewer's, Sakstrup's, and Triangle all stopped their contracts" with the motor club.
"We have discontinued our contract with AAA as of December 15, 2017," confirms Lori Thomas, manager of Brewer's and Sakstrup's. Thomas, the daughter of Brewer's founder Dennis Brewer, says AAA is "making some changes" in the way it handles road service in the Ann Arbor area and wanted Brewer's to become a "preferred service provider." She says that would have required the company to strip its trucks of their own long-established brands (her father bought his first wrecker in 1964), painting them white, and re-branding them "AAA." It also would have meant working with AAA clients exclusively. "We work with seven other motor clubs," says Thomas. "They asked us to discontinue working with all but them."
A call to the local AAA office to ask about the changes was referred to Michigan AAA public affairs director Susan Hiltz, and then to national AAA corporate public affairs VP Kevin Bakewell. Bakewell says that locally "one, and only one, contractor ... has not renewed their contract." He says their branding requirements haven't changed and they're not requiring contractors to become preferred service providers.
But as Slote heard, Triangle Towing also recently stopped contracting with AAA in Ann Arbor. General manager Bill Shaw says he's been asked not to say much about why, just that "the model for what AAA wanted to do in Ann Arbor was not a business model Triangle Towing was interested in pursuing." Triangle will still help its customers who have AAA road service, but they'll have to pay up front and ask AAA to reimburse them. (AAA did reimburse Darrow for Brewer's service call.)
Triangle has a second location in Whitmore Lake, and Shaw says they still have
a contract with AAA for road service there and in nearby areas. He says AAA is not imposing the same requirements there --at least, "not yet."
Bakewell says that Big House Towing is now AAA's primary local contractor, with Packard Towing as backup. An online search for Big House Towing comes up empty: no ads, no website, and no Facebook page. Bakewell couldn't even provide a phone number, just an address: 3230 S. State.
That turns out to be the BP gas station near Briarwood. A big sign promotes Maize & Blue Auto Repair, but says nothing about towing. Asked if Big House Towing is based there, an employee responds, "No. They're in Ypsilanti, actually."
[Originally published in February, 2018.]
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